Wheathampstead Local Nature Reserve
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Wheathampstead
Local Nature Reserve

 

Marshalls Heath Reserve 

Did you know that a nature reserve exists in the heart of Wheathampstead?
It was opened officially on Thursday 4th July 2002.

The reserve is located just South of Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire, U.K., between Butterfield Road; and the the B651 at TL177131.  Access is obtained through kissing gates, one situated along the footpath running down the Western edge of the Wheathampstead Development Centre. Another can be found along the path from Wheathampstead along the B651.  The site is a County Wildlife Site designated by the Wildlife Trust because of the rich mixture of habitat types found there. It is also an English Nature designated Local Nature Reserve, 'a place with special interest locally, which gives people special opportunities to study, learn or just simply enjoy nature'.  It is managed by the Development Centre, Countryside Management Service (CMS) and the Parish Council.

 

The 17-acre/6.89 hectare  site includes a variety of habitats. Secondary ash woodland grades into thorn scrub, with mature hedgerow bounding the western edge of the site. The open habitats include 2ha of rough unimproved neutral grassland (which contains the notable Grass Vetchling plant), an area of ruderal habitat on imported chalky substrate and a pond/scape area. A wide variety of plants can be found, including Bee and Spotted Orchids, Ox-eye Daisies, Black Knapweed, Heath Bedstraw, Cowslips and Ragged Robin to name a few. The flowers attract many insects including butterflies such as Small Heath, Marbled White  and Common Blue, and day-flying Burnet moths with their vivid red on black spots. In turn birds are attracted to the site. Yellowhammers, White-throats and Long-tailed Tits can often be heard calling from the scrub, Green Woodpeckers can be seen feeding on ants and Goldfinches can be seen feeding on the Teasels in Winter. What ever the season, a walk through WLNR can offer something of interest.

The ‘Friends of WLNR’, that include many local residents, assist CMS in the upkeep of the reserve by:  monitoring flora and fauna; undertaking 'warden' patrols; getting involved with practical work, e.g. brush cutting etc.

 

For more information on the history, management and wildlife that can be found on the reserve, go to the main WLNR web pages at http://www.wheathampsteadlnr.talktalk.net/index.html

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